Slow and steady: Safety tips for slow cooking | SierraSun.com

Slow and steady: Safety tips for slow cooking

Chef Heather Hunsaker
Special to the Sun

Foodonthetable.comSlow-cooked meals warm up any busy parent's evening with kid-friendly recipes.

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; With cooler temperatures in the air and fall officially upon us, comforting chilies, stews and casseroles are just the thing we think about when meal planning. Many of these comforting fall foods are easy to whip together on a busy day with a slow cooker or crock-pot. But have you ever wondered is slow cooking safe?

Well wonder no more. This convenient appliance is designed to be left on and unattended for long periods of time and is perfectly safe, if used properly.

To ensure a safe and tasty meal, follow these slow cooker safety tips:

1. Check your temps: Most foods should be cooked to 165 degrees to kill bacteria; slow cookers are designed to reach temperatures of 170 and#8211; 300 degrees. Use a meat thermometer to check that the meat has reached its proper temperature before pulling it out of the cooker and consuming. Also if you have an older model slow cooker use a thermometer to check that the liquid is reaching the proper simmering temperature of 209 degrees. Remember the warm setting is not for cooking and food should not be stored or held on this setting for long periods of time; the low setting is best if you are running late or need to push dinner back.

2. Preheat your cooker: Just as you would preheat your oven, the same should be done with the slow cooker. This prevents the meat from sitting out in a cold crock-pot while it heats up. It is also recommended to cook food on and#8216;highand#8217; for the first hour, to quickly bring food up to the correct temperature.

3. Use caution with delicate food: Seafood should be added during the last hour of cooking to prevent over cooking and a rubbery texture. Dairy products should be added during the last 30 minutes of cooking to prevent curdling.

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4. Follow directions: Like any appliance read the ownerand#8217;s manual to ensure you are using it correctly and follow recipe directions.

and#8212; Chef Heather attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, but has developed family friendly meals since she was 9 years old in her motherand#8217;s kitchen. She is an avid crockpotter and knows how to get food on the table in a pinch. She currently serves as a writer and recipe developer for meal planning site http://www.foodonthetable.com.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 4-5 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low

Serves 4-6

1 (3-4 pound) boneless pork loin roast

salt and pepper

1 (18 ounce) jar apricot preserves

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup chicken broth

3 tablespoons soy sauce

4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced-

Place the pork in slow cooker and season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine the preserves with the orange juice, chicken broth, soy sauce, and garlic and pour over the meat. Cover and cook for 4-5 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low. Remove from slow cooker and let rest 10 minutes before carving. Serve with sauce from slow cooker.